News and events

New education campaign opening doors for vision-impaired Victorians

15 Oct 2015

We're opening doors for people with vision loss

Guide Dogs Victoria, Public Transport Victoria and Yarra Trams launch educational campaign on correct public transport etiquette around vision impaired travellers.

Melbourne, Victoria: Guide Dogs Victoria today launched an education campaign in conjunction with Public Transport Victoria and Yarra Trams aiming to open the doors to public transport for Victoria’s vision impaired population.

The Opening Doors campaign, launched on International White Cane Day (Thursday October 15), educates Victorians on the proper etiquette around vision impaired travellers, in particular white cane users, encouraging public transport users to “stand aside, approach and ask”.

The campaign will be supported by the presence of a Guide Dogs Victoria co-branded tram traversing Melbourne’s streets for six weeks from 15 October 2015, and etiquette posters across the Yarra Trams network.

23-year old vision impaired student, Brooke Carter, welcomed the campaign following her own experiences of commuters jumping over her cane and accidentally snapping it in half, and frightening her by attempting to physically guide her on public transport unannounced.

Brooke is eager to raise awareness around proper etiquette around vision impaired public transport users.

“Using public transport can be challenging - it can be difficult to ensure you’re on the right tram, bus or train, that you’re getting off at the right stop, and that you have safe access to board and disembark on all transit vehicles. It’s like travelling in a foreign country – it’s stressful and easy to be unsure of yourself – which is why it’s so important to be aware of vision impaired travellers who may need a helping hand.”

Guide Dogs Victoria CEO Karen Hayes said the campaign calls on Victorians to be more aware of public transport users with a vision impairment and do their part to ensure that public transport is accessible to all Victorians.

“Public transport is critical in supporting people who are vision impaired achieve independence and their goals in life, all through the simple act of getting them from one place to another. For many of our clients at Guide Dogs Victoria, public transport is the only way for them to get around – 81 per cent use it regularly.

Public Transport Victoria CEO Gary Liddle said that the campaign is an extension of their existing staff education programs designed to give team members a first-hand experience of what it’s like to use public transport with a vision impairment.

“PTV is committed and passionate about making public transport simple and easy to use throughout an entire journey. Our ongoing and effective collaboration with operators, partners and the community will help us deliver an accessible network that is integrated and safe.”

Chris Stinchcombe, Director Rolling Stock Yarra Trams said wrapped trams always garner attention and that the organisation is proud to work with Guide Dogs Victoria to highlight the message of accessible travel.

“Trams play a crucial role in connecting the community and Yarra Trams is committed to making them accessible to everyone,” Mr Stinchcombe said.

“Our vision for a fully accessible tram network will be realised through building strong relationships with accessibility groups and improving employee awareness.”

Over the years, peak public transport bodies like Public Transport Victoria and Yarra Trams have worked to improve public transport accessibility including more announcements on trains, trams and buses, improved access to train platforms and staff education programs.

As a result of their constant efforts to improve services for vision impaired travellers, recent research undertaken by Guide Dogs Victoria showed that of people with a vision impairment that use public transport regularly, almost half reported that their experiences on public transport had improved in the past 12 months (41 per cent).

Ms Hayes said the campaign is a sure sign of more positive change to come within the proactive public transport industry in Victoria.

“We’d like to thank Public Transport Victoria and Yarra Trams for their willingness to educate Victorians about the proper etiquette on public transport around vision impaired travellers. It’s incredibly promising to see organisations like these really coming to the table to support accessible travel for the growing population of Victorians with a vision impairment.”

How to act around vision impaired PT users

  • Stand aside: clear space for someone travelling with a mobility aid (a white cane, a Guide Dog etc.), look around to check their path is not blocked by bags or legs blocking aisles, that the doorway is clear. If you’re sitting in a priority seat, vacate it.
  • Approach: if you think someone may need a hand, walk up, greet them and identify yourself.
  • Ask: ask them if they’d like some help, but don’t be offended if they don’t need your assistance. You might have just made someone’s day by offering to lend a hand.


Media enquiries

PTV media enquiries

  • 0466 017 500

Guide Dog Victoria media enquiries

  • Tabitha Mathew 0400 621 323
  • Sarah Robertson 0419 410 901
  • Georgia Harrison 0423 617 372